HumanDrive autonomous vehicle project aims to mimic human driving

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The University of Leeds’s Institute for Transport Studies is getting involved in a 30-month project – HumanDrive, led by Nissan’s European Technical Centre – to develop autonomous vehicle technologies to cope with various driving scenarios in the UK. The technologies will be demonstrated with a journey of more than 200 miles in December 2019.

The Institute for Transport Studies’s Professor Natasha Merat is the principal investigator, with colleague Professor Richard Romano overseeing the use of the university’s driving simulator (UoLDS).

“The project aim is for the HumanDrive car to travel in a way that would appear human to the outside world, navigating through all road types and driving conditions,” said Professor Merat.

“While there are many vehicles around the world that have some self-driving features, such as self-parking or cruise control, integrating human-like driving to driverless vehicles will provide a smoother, more comfortable experience for drivers. Our algorithm development is trying to achieve this along with an understanding of what people want from an automated driving experience.”

“Underpinning the HumanDrive car’s automation will be our team’s analysis of studies from drivers on the road and in our simulation,” said Professor Romano. “These will identify characteristics of natural driving and risk factors which influence driver behaviour and will be used to develop a control model capable of mimicking how a human driver reacts to risks in real time.

“The UoLDS studies will help understand the degree to which drivers prefer an autonomous driving style that is human-like and if they prefer a style that mimics their own. This will inform how human-like and how personal an autonomous vehicle should behave. This project highlights the capabilities of Leeds’s new Virtuocity centre, and its ability to integrate externally-developed automated vehicle control software in the simulation environment and rapidly generate geo-specific databases and perform simulation-based testing of driverless cars.”

The HumanDrive project will conclude in December 2019 with a 200-plus-mile journey through a variety of settings, including country roads and motorways. It will also be used to increase public awareness of and confidence in autonomous vehicles and enable authorities responsible for road networks and safety to benefit from developments in automated transport system technologies.

“Low carbon and self-driving vehicles are the future and they are going to drive forward a global revolution in mobility,” said Greg Clark, the UK government’s business and energy secretary.

“This revolution has the potential to be worth £52bn to our economy by 2035 and the opportunity to be at the forefront of this change is one we cannot afford to miss. Through our Industrial Strategy and the Automotive Sector Deal investment in the development of driverless technology we are committed to working with industry to seize these opportunities.”

“This pioneering project will considerably enhance the experience of drivers who use future autonomous vehicles,” said Mark Westwood, chief technology officer at Transport Systems Catapult.

“We’ve only just scratched the surface in terms of the capability of machine learning and AI in driving. The HumanDrive project further reinforces the UK’s commitment to be at the forefront of future mobility, and as a world leader in R&D. We are delighted to be working with world-class partners on this project to ensure autonomous vehicle technology provides users with the utmost comfort and control possible.”

HumanDrive is jointly funded by government and industry. The government’s £100m Intelligent Mobility fund is administered by the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) and delivered by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK.

The project will draw upon the expertise of organisations including Hitachi, Transport Systems Catapult, Cranfield University, Horiba MIRA, Atkins, Aimsun, SBD Automotive and Highways England.

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As editor of four magazines at UKi Media & Events James brings over a decade of writing about, and obsessing over, technology and cars to Automotive Interiors World, Stadia, Winter Sports Technology International and Auditoria. Responsible for commissioning, writing and editing each issue he’s covered the best (and worst) from around the industry on a continual search to feature the latest innovation or talking point on the next cover.

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